Saturday, another crop of fresh-faced Northern Michigan University graduates will head out into the "real" world, diplomas in hand, possibilities wide open.
First, we congratulate each of them on the achievement of earning a college degree. It takes a great deal of hard work to do so and we acknowledge and honor that effort.
Next, we congratulate the parents of these college grads for the support they gave their young people, be it financial or moral. You are no doubt beaming with pride while sighing with relief as you watch your son or daughter walk through the Superior Dome to take that sheepskin in hand.
Finally, we thank the faculty and staff at NMU for providing such an excellent education opportunity in our community. Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are to have a top-notch institution of higher learning readily accessible to local residents that's also so inviting to people from across the country and around the globe.
Graduation is a time of mixed emotions for some. It's difficult to say goodbye to one phase of life and to the many friends made through the years at NMU yet it's thrilling to be off to make a future, hopefully in the field in which one has obtained a degree.
And that can be the downer in all of the hoopla. While there's excitement in graduation, there's a bit of trepidation if a job isn't lined up already. Michigan, like the rest of the country, is still recovering from the Great Recession.
Jobs aren't plentiful in every field, especially jobs that pay well enough to allow students to start paying back what can be mountains of debt incurred in the form of student loans.
To those worried about the future, we offer this bit of advice: Another, better word for Saturday's events, rather than graduation, is commencement, which is defined as beginning or start.
How this new beginning goes is up to you, but with hard work and determination, each of you has a shot at making all your dreams come true.
We wish all the NMU students commencing this weekend the start of a wonderful life. Your future is in your hands: We hope you make the most of it.